A touch of a European Christmas in Hahndorf

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By Melissa Keogh

You won’t find many crackling wood fires, snow scattered rooftops or mugs of eggnog during the festive season in South Australia.

But venture down the southern end of Hahndorf’s main street in the Adelaide Hills and you might just catch a glimpse of a European Christmas.

Since 2012 C3 Church Adelaide Hills Pastors Bruce and Julie Williams have brought the magic of a European Christmas market to Hahndorf – Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt, now in its sixth year, has drawn a total of 90,000 visitors to the popular tourist strip to enjoy a glass of Glühwein and wander among an array of handicrafts.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt captures the essence of a traditional European Christmas market with twinkling lights and bespoke offerings.

Run by volunteers from the C3 Church Adelaide Hills, the Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt will return for three nights from Friday, December 15.

Bruce and Julie were inspired to bring a touch of Europe to Hahndorf upon visiting traditional Christmas markets in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic.

“They were remarkable, but probably the most influential was Munich,” says Bruce.

“We started to think about things we could do at home and it dawned on us that we’re in the oldest German town in Australia.

“We put the idea of a Christmas market out to the church and we knew that it would take many volunteer hours to pull it together.”

Pastors Bruce and Julie Williams in traditional German attire.

Daylight saving and the Adelaide Hills’ breezy summertime climate were perfect for an outdoor Christmas market featuring displays of handicrafts, baked goods, artwork and gifts beneath a display of twinkling fairy lights.

During its first year, the Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt had stallholder vacancies, but now there’s a waiting list.

The market has also expanded its footprint by spilling out onto Auricht Road, which closes to traffic for the duration of the event.

The event received recognition from the Mount Barker Council recently when it was crowned the 2016 Community Event of the Year.

Bruce says many Hahndorf traders have embraced the thousands of visitors to the town by keeping their doors open past regular trading hours.

The C3 Church Band will perform carols at 9.15pm every night.

He says the true meaning of Christmas was still evident through the singing of Christmas carols and a nativity scene at the market.

“We believe in the message of Christmas in the birth of Christ and that was still a strong element in the European context as well,” Bruce says.

“The point (of the market) is not to try and get people to the church, there’s no pressure, we just want people to have fun.

“It’s a joyful and happy place.”

The market is expected to attract 30,000 people across three nights.

A licensed area allows visitors to enjoy Lobethal Bierhaus brews and Lobethal Road wines, as well as traditional German-style mulled wine, Glühwein.

Bruce says the majority of stallholders are South Australian, however, the market experiences demand from exhibitors across the country.

The Hahndorf Christkindlmarkt is on Friday December 15, 5 – 10pm, Saturday 4pm – 10pm, and Sunday, 4pm –10pm.

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